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Being Economical With The Youth


Dorset

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Going, going, gone - Fabio Borini, Jack Cork, now Michael Mancienne, with all of them having more than paid their way through what the Fourth Estate would have you believe is a ‘harm school’, rather than a state of the art football academy. I suppose in one way the criticism is justified in that precious few will ever make it into our first team squad, let alone command a regular place in the side, so what [in a stark financial case made for others] is the point of throwing a disproportionate amount of cash at a potential problem child? The answer is to nod knowingly in the general direction of Josh McEachran and follow it up with the bold prediction that, of the current crop, Ryan Bertrand, Patrick van Aanholt and the fast-tracked Danny Sturridge will also buck this recent trend to go abroad, or to Blackpool.

Talking of youth, Barcelona are the focal point for pretty much everything on Planet Football these days and so it came as no surprise to learn that Sir Alex puts the key measurable blame for his team’s crushing defeat right at their door, or more particularly the door marked ’Academy’ through which seven home-grown players emerged to inflict untold damage last Saturday. According to the vanquished knight, ’a huge advantage’ is held by these Spanish giants, if you can ever describe Pep Guardiola’s diminutive side as such, and his thought process ran as follows…

“Barcelona can coach every hour of the day if they want and that’s the great advantage they have got. You can see their philosophy through that†, expounded the old nag as he galloped around the hack track once more in search of a viable reason for defeat. And there’s more…

“It’s a fantastic philosophy and we hope that, in years to come, we have more time with young players, to teach them the basics, the technical ability and to have the confidence to take the ball all the time. We’re good at that, but we’re not as good as Barcelona at this moment in time. It’s a wonderful challenge and we can always accept a challenge.â€

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d be amazed if any other manager in the English game could have gotten away with such utter claptrap as this without some probing questions. For instance, exactly what has he been doing with the time he’s had over the last 20-odd Premiership years, or, if there has never been enough of it to keep the kiddies occupied, why wait until your nearly in your 70th year to bring the subject up? Needless to say, the assembled Media stayed schtum, whereas someone like Jose, saying precisely the same thing, but with more attitude and less venerability, would no doubt have been accused of ridiculous dark art delusion, amongst other things.

However, be that as it may and lest you are unaware (perhaps even blissfully so) the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan is seen by Fergie’s gimlet eye to be moving at only a snail’s pace towards English youngsters being able to narrow a coaching gap that, under current regulations, states they can receive no more than 3,760 ’contact time’ hours on a training pitch up to the age of 18yrs, whereas Ajax and Barca Academies can run the little so-and-so’s ragged for anything up to 7,000 to 8,000 hours when they’re between the ages of 10-18yrs. The assumption is therefore made that more time put in leads to better quality coming out and the natural consequence, for Ferguson if nobody else, is that English teams will always be passed off the park and as p***ed off about it as he is each and every time we are confronted by the long-into-the-night, super-coached opposition.

Sadly, the real truth of the matter emerged when United knocked us out of the Youth Cup by playing a man-mountain of a team that bullied the life out of our attempts to play around Josh and his patterned passing game. Whilst he will learn how to cope with the attention, despite not having the sheer physical presence Paul Pogba clearly has at a similar stage in his development, the important point to be made here is that when put in front of a camera the United boss will extol the virtues of those now-matured Barca bright young things, even going so far as to say it would be a ‘wonderful challenge’ for anyone to take on, yet it would appear he has no intention whatsoever of rehashing his own training regime, with or without the perceived level playing field of more man-hours to train the boys. And all this after being taught a salutary lesson in how a good little’un beats a good big’un once silky skill is factored in.

And so we return full circle to my opening paragraphs and a wider appreciation of what I think we are trying to achieve at Chelsea in comparison with United, where the framework is geared more towards the Premiership way of playing, incorporating little or no compromise for Champions League campaigns. All the training time in the world wont change the style or playing philosophy of a club and Ferguson’s lame excuses and muddled mind games cannot hide his ingrained beliefs, nor mine that Chelsea look set to paint on the broader canvass in the coming years.

Now is not the moment to kid ourselves, let alone a British Media, into believing in anything other than one brutally honest home truth - Premiership style football will not challenge Barcelona’s present European dominance and while Citeh continue to establish themselves we must expect future battles between the red and blue halves of Manchester to epitomise the English style inherent in Premiership play. By rights the summer transfer window should reveal the divergent paths both clubs are taking and my only hope, as opposed to excited expectancy, is that Sturridge, McEachran, van Aanholt and Bertrand secure shadowing roles [if not more in Danny’s case] as evidence of their progress through our system. Time is of the essence and the last thing they want is too much more of it to pass by while they wait for first team action at Chelsea.

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You missed a period in there Dorset, I'm not going to tell you where though. My hint is it'll be in the last place you look! :P

On the article:

Brilliant read again, though I do agree with the premise that English academies are at a disadvantage over playing time restrictions.

The fact that our youth prospects are being sold on is a good sign to me in some ways. These people were deemed surplus to requirements or simply not good enough for our first team and moved on. However, they are making names for themselves in other teams which promotes the growing strength of our academy and improves the sport as a whole. The everpresent danger with these things is selling the wrong talent on too early, only to watch him become a superstar with somebody else, al la Rossi.

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You missed a period in there Dorset, I'm not going to tell you where though. My hint is it'll be in the last place you look! :P

On the article:

Brilliant read again, though I do agree with the premise that English academies are at a disadvantage over playing time restrictions.

The fact that our youth prospects are being sold on is a good sign to me in some ways. These people were deemed surplus to requirements or simply not good enough for our first team and moved on. However, they are making names for themselves in other teams which promotes the growing strength of our academy and improves the sport as a whole. The everpresent danger with these things is selling the wrong talent on too early, only to watch him become a superstar with somebody else, al la Rossi.

Classic double entendre.

Dorset - you could have pointed out the prevailing wisdom that the failure of the British game - especially at international level - is down to 'over-coaching'. If I had a pound for every time that's been said over the past few decades I'd be able to buy Messi and Xavi for my local side. But now it appears the key to success is coaching the players for longer, before breakfast and all through the night. There will be no need for anyone to put the cones away, so Avram might be redundant.

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Classic double entendre.

Dorset - you could have pointed out the prevailing wisdom that the failure of the British game - especially at international level - is down to 'over-coaching'. If I had a pound for every time that's been said over the past few decades I'd be able to buy Messi and Xavi for my local side. But now it appears the key to success is coaching the players for longer, before breakfast and all through the night. There will be no need for anyone to put the cones away, so Avram might be redundant.

In fairness, if you do the maths on the numbers that Dorset provided, it works out in the region of 9 hours per week that these youngsters can train - doesn't sound like a huge amount and I would've thought that a bit more would help them...

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In fairness, if you do the maths on the numbers that Dorset provided, it works out in the region of 9 hours per week that these youngsters can train - doesn't sound like a huge amount and I would've thought that a bit more would help them...

It's less the hours of coaching, more what you do with them in the sessions, I'd have thought. Do we work enough on technique in this country?

Many years ago, when Terry Yorath was manager of Wales, he wanted to stop young kids playing on full-size pitches, as he felt small-sized games were better at improving skill and technique. There was a massive uproar from all the parents and volunteers, who were only interested in their teams winning games and not in developing players' skills.

He got his way in the end, which is why Wales are now beating all-comers. OK, Northern Ireland. It might be, though, that the change helped produce Ramsey and Bale, who are technically gifted.

Dorsets' point about the different styles of our and Manure's youth teams was interesting, and very apparent in the two legs. But to be fair to Fergie, he is using the team to develop players as much as a playing style, and if you've got a powerful lad like Pogba you are going to use that power to your advantage.

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agree wiv lots dorset views - but the 'system' in our reserves/academy is flawed cos the play lots good football, create loads chances, develop decent players then get rid - borini, cork, mancienne for example

CFC strategy not working

time to seriously bring some young players into the squad,maybe not from our club

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Great article as always. I too hope those lads can break it into the first team, but only because they meet standards not because we lowered them.

I think people forget we only just planted the tree, we can't expect the branches to be breaking under the weight of the fruit quite yet.

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